U Students auction men for famine

A student group held a date auction to raise money for famine in Africa.

Junior Rezwam Islam goes up for auction during a fundraiser for Feed My Starving Children on Thursday night at Comstock Hall.

Junior Rezwam Islam goes up for auction during a fundraiser for Feed My Starving Children on Thursday night at Comstock Hall.

by Yasin Mohamud

Sabah Husain and Sameyah Khan shouted the names of University of Minnesota students, fighting to be heard over the loud laughter and screams of women of all backgrounds.

They were screaming and bidding for the right to go on a date with men on the auction block.

Israr Khan, a University junior and Haram Squad member, said the date auction started off as a joke, but ultimately helped raise funds toward the goal of $1,000.

âÄúI actually asked a friend of mine if he would be willing to get auctioned off as a joke, and he agreed and was serious about helping out,âÄù Israr Khan said.

Husain, a University sophomore and community outreach coordinator for the Pakistani Students Association, and Khan, an Augsburg student, were emcees for the date auction portion of the International Dinner: Fundraiser for the Horn of Africa held last Thursday.

Held on the ground floor of Comstock Hall, the event was organized by a group of friends who call themselves the Haram Squad, a ragtag organization with no official standing with the University.

The group donated the $1,012 it raised to famine victims in the Horn of Africa through Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit charity committed to combating hunger around the world.

âÄúIt was good to have the information first, where we spoke about the famine and whatâÄôs going on in the region and then transition into the date auction,âÄù Husain said.

Though Sameyah Khan isnâÄôt a University student, she said she was honored and excited to help the cause.

âÄúI go to Augsburg but IâÄôm friends with a lot of the kids who are in charge of this event and didnâÄôt hesitate when they asked me to be a part of it,âÄù Sameyah Khan said.

Friends and family of the organizers made most of the food for the dinner and served it to guests.

âÄúA lot of my friends from the Somali Student Association and from the Minnesota International Student Association made all the food from scratch,âÄù Israr Khan said.

The auction featured 11 University students and raised more than $450, while tickets from the dinner brought in more than $600. Israr Khan said the auction was more successful than expected.

âÄúI think we were all surprised by the amount of money we raised,âÄù he said.

Jamelah Hersh, a University senior and president of Delta Phi Omega sorority, said she came out to the dinner to support her friends who were being auctioned off and wanted to help raise awareness of the famine.

âÄúI really think that a lot of students feel bad about whatâÄôs going on in that region but think that they canâÄôt do anything to helpâÄù Hersh said. âÄúBut this event proves otherwise.âÄù

Ahmed Abdalla, a political science and economics major, set the record at $100 after a bidding battle between two audience members.

âÄúI knew both of the people who were trying to win me as a date, and IâÄôm friends with them. I had a great time and canâÄôt wait for the date,âÄù Abdalla said.

Kareem Elghorab, a University alumnus and friend of the squad, was another auction contestant. He said he was hesitant to be auctioned off at first but came around to the idea after he realized what the event was for.

âÄúI thought it would be a little awkward at first to do the auction, but it is for a great cause and what guy can say no to women fighting over you?âÄù he said.

Elghorab said he plans to take his bidder to Chuck E. CheeseâÄôs for a nice, laid-back date.